Jail for drink-driver who crashed leaving his great-niece paralysed

Arthur Ford, 51, caused serious injury by drink and dangerous driving.
Arthur Ford, 51, caused serious injury by drink and dangerous driving.

An alcoholic drink-driver crashed leaving his great-niece paralysed after ignoring her pleas to slow down.

On May 28, Arthur Ford, 51, of Illingworth, Halifax, drove to Stockport to pick-up his 14-year-old great-niece Jessica Whyte and her 17-year-old boyfriend.

Bradford Crown Court heard that an already intoxicated Ford drank a can of lager at the wheel and stopped at a Manchester newsagents to buy three small bottles of Jack Daniels whiskey and urinate.

When the school-girl questioned his drinking Ford replied: ‘I can have ten of these and still be OK’.

As the Peugeot vehicle reached Calderdale, the court heard Ford pursued a reckless journey - speeding up and slowing down, driving on the wrong side of Blackstone Edge Road as the teenagers held hands and begged a ‘spooky witch-like’ laughing Ford to slow down.

Travelling at around 80mph the car left the road ‘skipping’ 150 metres into a nearby field - landing on its side, prosecuting Andrew Stranex told the court.

The teenagers managed to free themselves from the vehicle Ford was trapped inside. Jessica was taken to Leeds General Infirmary and was treated for a broken sternum and lacerated splee and kidneys. She has been in hospital since and cannot walk as she is now paralysed from the waist down.

Prosecuting Mr Stranex said Ford, who was twice over the limit, told police he drank whiskey to ease toothache and was speeding up because he needed the toilet.

Mitigation Louise Cowen told the court the defendant was an unwell man - suffering from angina, strokes, alcoholism and depression. She said the father-of-six has tried to take his life and is deeply sorry for his actions.

Ford appeared in the dock on crutches and pleaded guilty to drink driving and serious injury by dangerous driving and was sentenced by Judge Colin Burn to three-years imprisonment and banned from driving for three-years.

His honour Judge Burn told the defendant: “Under the normal circumstances you are a far from callous and cruel man - but that describes your behaviour on this occasion.”

He said: “I don’t know how you could hold the safety and lives of two young people so cheaply but you did.”

Before Ford was taken from the dock to the cells, he told the court he was very sorry for his actions.